OT - Old Topic - If we all live to be 150, where will we park?greenspun.com : LUSENET : TB2K spinoff uncensored : One Thread
If we all live to be 150, where will we park?
By MARY ROACH
Scientists recently managed to double the life span of the common fruit fly. Instead of having only two weeks to hang around on rotting fruit, they now have four. These same scientists then gathered to debate the likelihood that humans would soon be able to do the same thing. (Live longer, that is. Not hang around on rotting fruit. That has always been an option.)
The answer was "yes". "Future generations may be able to avail themselves of scientifically established techniques to stretch the human life span like a piece of taffy until it reaches 150, even 200 years," reported The New York Times. The article said you would not look 200 years old, however that might look (I'm thinking of dried fruit). You would live out your extra generations looking and feeling like a 40- or 50-year-old.
I cannot speak for fruit flies, although with all that time on their hands (or wings or feet) I expect they will be mastering English shortly and that sort of thing will not be necessary, but I personally do not want my life span to be stretched like taffy. In my experience, no good comes of stretching taffy. As much taffy as you have is usually much more than you want.
Likewise in life. Who really wants to be around for another 150 years? Imagine it. Movies will cost $155, and most will star Adam Sandler. Seven-year-olds will be having sex. Health insurance will cost more than a mortgage, forcing people to live in their 4WDs, which will by that time be larger than most single-family dwellings anyway. Economy-class airline passengers will be hung vertically on racks similar to those used by drycleaners. The parking situation alone would be enough to keep me from signing on.
I will concede, however, that the people of the 22nd century will need some extra time. Projections based on current figures suggest that it will take an average of 22 hours on hold to reach a customer service representative at Viacom, several weeks to cross Los Angeles on Route 495, and the better part of a decade to stand in line at the Department of Motor Vehicles.
And certainly there would be some pluses to living to 200. My Disney stock might finally do something, and it will be entertaining to watch bell-bottoms come around for the fifth time. But by and large the idea of being alive in the year 2110 is about as appealing as saltwater taffy (stocks of which will still be on hand in 2110).
As for stopping the aging process, pish tush. It can't really be done, even if you do manage to stem the advance of physical decrepitude. For aging is more than liver spots and cataracts. Aging is the natural and inevitable process of growing bored with almost everything, and disgusted with everything else. It begins about 35. You start to grow indifferent towards everything you once loved. Your career, your hobbies, Thai food, flirting, getting dressed up. You grow cynical. You grow jaded. Bit by bit, year by year, everything begins to seem stale and pointless. (When, in reality, it is you who is stale and pointless.)
So desperate are you for something different and meaningful that you decide to have children. This passes the time for another 25 years. By then you are pushing 60. You retire. And you travel a bit, maybe five years, tops. (By the time you're 70, the list of countries you want to visit has dwindled: Canada, anything Caribbean, Ireland and any country that doesn't put its bathrooms down the hall.)
Imagine having another 100 years. What will there be left to do? Complain. Compete with your daughters for men. Complain and swat fruit flies (a growing problem, thanks to research gone awry in the late 20th century).
The system as it stands has a certain elegance and logic. God makes you get sickly and grotesque, so by the time you're on your last legs, the thought of leaving it all behind appeals. You die and make room for someone new, someone full of optimism, muscle tone and enthusiasm for today's new music.
What would a society do with its old people if they refused to die? How would we handle this ballooning population of healthy but deeply bored and irritable 150-year-old 50-year-olds? There will be growth in certain industries like menopause research, but how will we employ everyone?
Some would accuse me of sour grapes, that because I was born too soon to take advantage of this brave new world, I can only condemn it. But if the grapes are sour you can ripen them in a sunny spot in your kitchen, and fruit flies will appear, and when they do, you ask what they think.
Just posted for chit-chat if you feel like that rotten fruit fly.
Regards from OZ
-- Pieter (email@example.com), March 24, 2000
Where will we find all that rotten fruit?
--150 yr old -- old fart
-- AlreadyFeel (MyCreaking@Bones.com), March 24, 2000.
don't worry it won't happen in your lifetime, even if you live to be 150
anyway you'll be banned from driving at 80, maybe you'll have one of those little electric carts
imagine being a pensioner for 85 years
-- richard (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 24, 2000.