The Bishop and the Butterfly: Murder, Politics, and the End of the Jazz Age
    Ramona's picture

    Should I Die At 75? Oh Wait. Too Late.


    On September 17, the very day--I mean, the exact day I turned 77, Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel's essay, "Why I hope to Die at 75" appeared in The Atlantic magazine.   You could have knocked me over with a feather.  Really?  (We old people say, "really?" while you say, "seriously?".  There's one difference right there.)

    Emanuel is a bioethicist and breast oncologist who is for Obamacare and universal health care and against euthanasia for the aged.  Nevertheless, he apparently believes that because most people over 75 are no longer as vibrant as most people under 75, and many of them have insurmountable health issues, there should be an arbitrary cut-off date after which any reasonable human being would do humanity a favor and go find themselves a nice iceberg somewhere and float off into the darkness. Singing.

    I have admired Zeke Emanuel for. . . I don't know. . . a long time now. I can't remember.  (Don't kill me!)  I always thought that of all the Emanuels, he had his head on straightest.  But it could be that on the very day I turned 77 my brain read Emanuel's piece, took notice that I was exactly two years past the cut-off date, and got confused about what it was supposed to do now.  Whatever happened, I don't get this guy.  Not this time.

    He said:

    By the time I reach 75, I will have lived a complete life. I will have loved and been loved. My children will be grown and in the midst of their own rich lives. I will have seen my grandchildren born and beginning their lives. I will have pursued my life’s projects and made whatever contributions, important or not, I am going to make. And hopefully, I will not have too many mental and physical limitations. Dying at 75 will not be a tragedy. Indeed, I plan to have my memorial service before I die. And I don’t want any crying or wailing, but a warm gathering filled with fun reminiscences, stories of my awkwardness, and celebrations of a good life. After I die, my survivors can have their own memorial service if they want—that is not my business.

    Ooooh. . . weeping here.  So sweet!  (Except for that part about "dying at 75 will not be a tragedy".   Easy for him to say.)

    And then he said:

    . . .the fact is that by 75, creativity, originality, and productivity are pretty much gone for the vast, vast majority of us. . . This age-creativity relationship is a statistical association, the product of averages; individuals vary from this trajectory. Indeed, everyone in a creative profession thinks they will be, like my collaborator, in the long tail of the curve. There are late bloomers. As my friends who enumerate them do, we hold on to them for hope. It is true, people can continue to be productive past 75—to write and publish, to draw, carve, and sculpt, to compose. But there is no getting around the data. By definition, few of us can be exceptions. Moreover, we need to ask how much of what “Old Thinkers,” as Harvey C. Lehman called them in his 1953 Age and Achievement, produce is novel rather than reiterative and repetitive of previous ideas. The age-creativity curve—especially the decline—endures across cultures and throughout history, suggesting some deep underlying biological determinism probably related to brain plasticity.

    Hold on a minute.  Old Thinkers.  Processing. . .

    . . .

    We'll just move on now.

    There are people who are still brilliant--or at least special--long past the time most of us would have given up and moved on.  They're Emanuel's exceptions and the older these people get the more they become potential national treasures.  It's because they've beaten the odds and are living proof that, even at such an advanced age, they still have much to contribute.  It's also true that younger admirers have put themselves in their place and feel better about their own chances of making waves for that long.  But too often they stop celebrating that person's achievements and begin celebrating their longevity.  Any mention of them from then on ends up being a eulogy. As if whatever they were is in the distant past and now they just are.  This sort of thing doesn't help.

    A cut-off date of, say, 75 when even Emanuel, the chooser of the cut-off date, admits that nobody ages in the same way during the same time-frame, is so dumb all I can figure is that he needed an attention-getter to make a few points about how terrible it will be when he's no longer at the top of his game.

    Take it from me, Zeke.  You'll get over it.


    (Cross-posted at Ramona's Voices and Alan Colmes' Liberaland)


    Although I'm still a reasonable distance from 75, for both of my very vibrant parents that number is just around the corner — my dad is 72 and my mom turns 71 soon. While it's safe to say neither one is at the peak of their health, I see no reason why both of them shouldn't expect to live at least 20 more healthy and very productive years (my dad keeps saying he expects to live to 120, but given that exceeding 100 is rare in our family…). I didn't know of Zeke Emmanuel before reading your piece, and I have no desire to know of him after.

    And of course, I would be remiss if I didn't state emphatically that being 77 has done nothing to dull your creative talents.

    Thanks, VA.  I really am counting on being the first in my family to make it to 100, so if I don't, I'm going to be pissed.  I'm not the same person I was even 20 years ago, of course, but considering that 20 years ago I figured I'd be dead by now, I'm doing better than expected.

    What bothers me most about the article is that it works right into age discrimination by trying to put an age on when people should be thinking about hanging it up.  I probably know 100 people around my age and we're all at different stages of decay.  Some have barely started while some are already dead.  Our age had nothing to do with it.


    I imagine "aberrations in thought processes, mood regulation, and cognitive functioning" might apply to me since an early age. Today I waited on green while some old codgers crossed the road, managing slowly on their canes & walkers and appreciative I waited - I felt good - especially to see them bouncing around late in life.

    I think part of the crappy attitude towards old people in America is that it's so driving-focused, so anyone who can't drive is already disabled. Where I live, driving's unnecessary. 

    But this asshole thinks the only reason to be alive is to "be productive", to "contribute", and if not, get off the sidewalk. What a jerk. Why not parasitically take in one more concert, walk in the park, sunset, health checkup, trip to the zoo, sip of tea in a cafe, look through a photo album, a game of pinochle, chat with a grandkid? Is this using too much ozone and biofuels and oxygen?

    To think this guy helped design the health care fiasco - and indeed, Sarah Palin and her mentor accurately took his attitude about "death panels"  from his writing, however much he backpedaled after - he was talking about rationing care and dealing with decisions of who dies. Which without an endless budget, certainly not everyone will get brain surgery. The big problem is his priorities - you got to be giving in or you're just taking out - win-lose game theory.

    One of my nicest experiences was dealing with my mother-in-law as she slowly checked out with Alzheimers. It taught me quite a bit about patience and enjoyment of little things, dealing with inconveniences that somehow weren't that inconvenient, helping through that last push off the shore.  I can't imagine thinking that she should be contributing something - just her bemused sometimes confused smile was enough, and even when she was distraught as things were too bewildering for her, I felt good to help, and it seemed she felt good to be helped. Who really benefited who? Or maybe it was a win-win experience called "just living", enjoying being alive, dealing with daily situations and just chillin'. Sometimes the small road detour is much better than the expressway we were on.

    As long as we think people live too long, we'll undercut aging care just as we undercut other health care. It's a racket - old folks homes suck up $6K/$7K a month and toss seniors out if they have any complication - don't want to take the risk, just want the high margins. Kinda like those charter schools - just want the smart kids, not the problem kids that need real creativity to teach. Government used to be a social compact - now it's just another cuthroat marketplace.

    For a guy who's an "ethicist", Zack's a piece of work. Perhaps ethics without taste isn't all it's cracked up to be.

    As long as we think people live too long, we'll undercut aging care just as we undercut other health care.

    Exactly, PP.  This is my fear.   Your mother-in-law was one lucky lady having you around to share a smile or two.  I was kind of shocked, I admit, when I saw so many references to Joan Rivers' age when she died.  The consensus seemed to be that she had lived long enough.  She was old.  Yikes!


    I was raised with this tenet even though the Ancient Egyptians recorded that a perfect life was 120 years. Hahahahah

    Even Ramses es the Second could not reach that mark and the ME's appear to demonstrate that this old Pharaoh experienced almost every old age disability in the book!

    Mama lived to 87.

    50 years without producing much of anything. Hahaha

    There are genetics and then there are factors like booze and tobacco and other indulgences.

    I recall how obscene the Media attacked Mickey Mantle when he received the liver transplant so long ago; he died shortly after the operation anyway.

    Oh we must not reward or repair sinners!

    I feel good at 64 except for my cervical spine and my teeth and.....

    Oh forget that.

    Hell I got Wiki and a ton of dictionaries and encyclopedias and books and all sorts of aids to help me in my dotage.

    But if someone wishes to enact legislation that instructs that there shall be no  life saving measures provided to the non rich after the 75th birthday....well there shall never be such legislation.

    Now, Happy Birthday (a little late) to Ramona who shall reach  the goal of the Ancient Egyptians.

    And, I wish you another 43 years to fulfill the old Egyptian Ideal.


    Thanks, Richard.  43 years, huh?  Can I hold you to it?

    My mom was 68 when she died; my dad was a month shy of 80.  My grandparents were in their 70s and early 80s--except for the one who drank himself to death.  But fie on heredity.  I shall go on!

    Happy belated, Mona! Thanks for this reverse-birthday gift to us. I love the kicker.

    Thanks, boss.  Just wanted to report that I had my annual physical today and everything looks good.  Except for the achy rotator cuff thingy caused, we think, by too much time with a mouse in hand.  I just can't use that stupid pad built into my laptop.  It's just not right.  It fights me. I love my mouse! 

    His treatment plan involves ice packs and Motrin 600.  He didn't try to get me to ease up on my computer use.  The doctor is my friend.


    I'm still waiting for a neural implant

    An implant? That's a pretty invasive solution for a guy your age-have you tried the phosphodiesterase inhibiters?  


    Well, anyway, if you do go with an implant, I had a client who spoke glowingly about the "semiflex"  (or semihard, depends on how you look at it )as opposed to the pneumatic implant which is way more complicated...wait a said "neural?"  never mind...

    An implant? That's a pretty invasive solution for a guy your age-have you tried the phosphodiesterase inhibiters?  


    Well, anyway, if you do go with an implant, I had a client who spoke glowingly about the "semiflex"  (or semihard, depends on how you look at it )as opposed to the pneumatic implant which is way more complicated...wait a said "neural?"  never mind...

    This is why we can't convince people we don't have death panels.

    Nicely done, Ramona.  You struck a deft blow.

    Thank you, Michael.  Death panels are for sissies.

    I wonder if Emanuel ever listens to what Warren Buffett (who is 84 years old) has to say…

    Ramona, ever wonder what you might have in common with Steve Sailer?

    You and he are the only ones in my reader that have commented on Zeke's essay. There may well be something buried in the plethora that Vox spews daily but I gave up trying to follow them. Anyway, I find the general silence in the left commentariat in response to Emanuel very interesting. 

    Here is Sailer's first response from last Friday with an excerpt:

    The Subtext to Ezekiel Emanuel's "Why I Hope to Die at 75"

    Now, the 57-year-old Ezekiel has an article in The Atlantic about how he hopes to die at age 75 because nobody is very creative after 75, which is true.

    Of course, not many people are very creative at all at any age, so why they should be terminally depressed that they are less likely to suddenly, say, compose the 21st Century equivalent of the Eroica Symphony or whatever after they hit 75 doesn’t seem all that germane.


    And here is his second from today

    Another Subtext to Ezekiel Emanuel's "Why I Hope to Die at 75:" Hillary's Too Old

    Many of the leading candidates for the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nomination would be by the conclusion of a second term in the White House well into what Ezekiel Emanuel tells us are their Better-Off-Dead years.

    For example, on January 19, 2025, outgoing two-term President Hillary Clinton would be 77 years old. President Joe Biden would be 82. President Jerry Brown would be 86. President Elizabeth Warren would be 75 and a half. President Bernie Sanders would be 83.

    In contrast, to pick completely at random an example of a younger Democratic leader with both foreign and domestic experience, President Rahm Emanuel would only be a still vibrant 65 after his two triumphant terms in the White House.

    Sailer may be the exemplar of political incorrectness but he is also very witty and often very insightful. 


    Funny, Emma, and he's so right!  Until now I had never heard of Steve Sailer, so, no, I never wondered what we might have in common.  I suspect, though, after reading his bio, this one thing would be about it.  Lol.

    Happy Birthday Ramona, one you share with my Dad who also was born on September 17th, and who turned 84 last week.  Two good people indeed, and you both seem perfectly fine on the other side of 75, thank heavens.  

    Many more Ramona.


    Thank you, Bruce.  Give your dad a mutual birthday hug from me.  I don't know how he feels about it, but if I could have picked a birth date on my own, it would have been September 17.  It's saucy and sibilant.  I feel sorry for anyone who can't say September 17 is their birthday.


    L'Shana Tova!

    Happy Birthday!  

    I can't die yet not at 75 because I won't be finished.  

    You bet, Momoe.  I can't imagine you even winding down, let alone stopping!


    I do not wish to bug you but 'they' wont let me blog here?

    Can you please figure out what is the matter?

    "They" can't do that!  I will find out who "they" are and give them a piece of my mind!

    Stay tuned.





    Mike did it!

    I am up.

    Not my greatest piece of art, hahahahahahah, 

    Something is wrong but Mike went around 'protocols'.

    I am sorry I went nuts, but I did not swear and I committed no mortal sins.



    You're welcome, but you did it yourself!  Glad to see you up and running.  (Well, maybe not running. . .lol)

    Latest Comments